Caring for your eyes is an important aspect of overall health. Older adults are at increased risk for age-related eye conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic eye disease1 Those with poor vision can also experience falls and mobility issues. In fact, a study of 1,500 older adults found that impaired vision was an independent risk factor for both recurring falls and fractures.2 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that impaired vision more than doubles the risk of experiencing a fall for Americans 65 and older.3 Thankfully, seeing clearly can sometimes be as simple as getting a new prescription and ordering a new pair of glasses.
Today, you no longer have to visit an optometrist’s office to choose your glasses. The entire process can be done online, provided you have a valid prescription. Purchasing glasses online often provides you with more options than you may find in-store and at better prices. Our Reviews Team examined some of the top brands to compare their selections, prices, try-on options, and purchasing process.
A quick look at the best online glasses in 2023
- Editor’s Pick: Glasses USA
- Fastest Shipping Option: Eyebuydirect
- Best Try-on Option: Warby Parker
- Most Affordable: Zenni Optical
- Best for Sunglasses: DIFF
Why you can trust our Reviews Team’s expert review
Our Reviews Team recommends products and services we believe provide value in the lives of our readers. We have performed hours of in-depth, independent research to help inform your online search for glasses. To make our selections, we:
- Engaged in independent research
- Mystery shopped eight retailers and more than 16 models of online glasses to evaluate customer features like try-on options, online vision exams, and overall customer service
- Read real reviews from verified customers on trusted third-party websites, such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Trustpilot
Editor’s Pick: GlassesUSA
Payment options: All major credit cards, FSA and HSA cards, PayPal, Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, and Klarna
Accepts insurance: Yes
Lens types: Single vision, readers, bifocal, progressive, sunglasses
Try-on option: Virtual live try-on
Shipping: 7–10 business days for free, 5–7 business days for $9.95, 3–5 business days for $12.95
Return policy: 14-day free returns for a full refund, no questions asked
Customer service options:
- Phone (844-244-1186) available 7 a.m. to midnight ET daily
- Email (email@example.com)
- 24/7 live chat
GlassesUSA offers more than 7,000 frames—including many designer brands like Gucci, Prada, and Versace—with a wide range of prices. This large price range includes expensive frame options from these designer brands, but over 65% of the frames on the site cost under $200. GlassesUSA also has a clearance section, often runs sales, and always offers a $10 discount for first responders, nurses, teachers, active duty members of the military, and students.
GlassesUSA has a feature it calls a “virtual try-on mirror” that allows you to digitally see yourself in any pair of frames in real time. You simply select a frame and position yourself in front of your computer or smart device camera to see what you look like wearing the glasses. The virtual glasses even move with your head as you turn side to side or look up and down. You can take a video recording or screenshot to compare multiple frames. It’s a convenient alternative to trying them on in person.
If you don’t know which frames to try, you can use the 60-second find-your-frame quiz to help you make a choice. Once you select your frame, you have three options for uploading your prescription. You can use the prescription scanner app to scan your current glasses with your smartphone camera to determine the prescription of your lenses. Alternatively, you can upload a photo of your written prescription or manually enter the prescription information on the website when ordering. Your prescription is saved in your account for future use.
Specialty lens coating options include anti-scratch, UV protection, anti reflective, blue-light-blocking, superhydrophobic (helps keep them clean), and adaptive (changes the tint based on the light in your environment).
GlassesUSA has a 14-day free return policy for a full refund, exchange, or store credit if you are unhappy with your purchase. All frames have a one-year warranty, and lenses have a 90-day warranty. GlassesUSA also has a price-match guarantee.
Customer service and reviews
If you are in need of assistance, you can access a live chat feature 24/7 or call 1-844-244-1186 between 7 a.m. and midnight ET. GlassesUSA also has two email options. For questions related to your order, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. For questions related to a return, you can email email@example.com.
GlassesUSA has 1.34 out of 5 stars and an A+ rating with the BBB from an average of almost 300 customer reviews as of the time this article was written. On Trustpilot, it has 4.5 out of 5 stars out of an average of 52,000 reviews. Most complaints relate to customer service, the return process, and delays in shipping. Most positive reviews mention the large selection, ease of ordering, and discounted prices.
GlassesUSA accepts vision insurance from 13 providers, like United Healthcare, Anthem, Humana, and Aetna. It accepts health savings account (HSA) cards, flexible spending account (FSA) cards, all major credit cards, PayPal, Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, and Klarna. The brand walks you through how to use your insurance and HSA or FSA on its website.
Best for Sunglasses: DIFF
Payment options: All major credit cards, HSA and FSA cards, Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, and Afterpay
Accepts insurance: No
Lens types: Single vision, readers, sunglasses
Try-on option: No
Shipping: Free for orders exceeding $140, $9.99 for 3–7 days, $15.99 for 2–4 days, $27 for 1–3 days, $30 for UPS Next Day Air (24–48 hours)
Return policy: 14 days
Customer service options:
- Phone (310-354-5929) Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT
- Live chat, hours of availability vary
DIFF offers high-end designer sunglasses and glasses at much more affordable prices than the brand-name designers themselves. The brand was made popular by influencers and celebrities, and it carries more than 600 different styles of frames. Since its website lacks any virtual try-on features, style selection quizzes, and prescription detection technology, DIFF is best for the style-conscious customer who knows what they want without much outside input.
DIFF offers free lenses that include anti-reflective coating, anti-scratch coating, hydrophobic coating, and ultraviolet protection. Upgrade options include ultra-thin material for stronger prescriptions, blue-light filter technology, photochromic lenses, and polarized sunglasses.
Although it may be a sought-after brand for people looking for trendy sunglasses or glasses online, DIFF is not for those in a hurry—production times can take up to three weeks. To order prescription lenses, you have two options: Upload a photo of your prescription, or request to send it later. If you choose to send it later, DIFF will email you instructions on how to submit it. Prescriptions are verified by an in-house optician before the glasses are made.
DIFF has a 14-day return policy. If you return your prescription glasses, you’ll be refunded for the cost of the glasses minus the shipping fee and a $9 restocking fee. DIFF also offers a one-year warranty on all prescription glasses. You may purchase a two-year protection plan for $15. A case is not included with your order, but you may add one for $20. At the time this article was written, DIFF was offering a buy one, get one free promotion on sunglasses.
DIFF also stands out for its commitment to charitable giving. Since 2015, DIFF has donated more than 1.4 million pairs of glasses to individuals in need around the world. It also offers affordable and free eye care through its Gift of Sight program. Every purchase helps to support these efforts.
Customer service and reviews
You can reach DIFF customer service by phone (310-354-5929) Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT. When we called customer service, we got a digital recording asking us to leave a callback number or voicemail. The DIFF website has a live chat feature, but it is hidden on one of its FAQ pages, and availability varies. The online contact form promises a response in one to three business days. DIFF doesn’t share an email address, but you can contact the brand through social media.
DIFF had 2.83 out of 5 stars from an average of 80 customer reviews at the time this article was written and an F rating from the BBB due to a failure to respond to some customer complaints. DIFF had 2.8 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot with an average of 94 customer reviews. Complaints focus on shipping and tracking problems and issues with refunds from returns. Customers also report poor communication from customer service. The positive reviews mention the opposite, stating that they experienced good customer service and that they were happy with the way their sunglasses and glasses looked on them.
DIFF does not accept insurance, but just like with any prescription glasses purchase, you may be eligible for reimbursement from your insurance carrier if you have an itemized receipt. DIFF accepts HSA and FSA cards and all major credit cards. DIFF also accepts Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, and Afterpay, allowing you to pay in four installments over a month.
How to buy glasses online
Regardless of the retailer you choose, ordering glasses online typically involves the following steps:
- Obtain your prescription. While some retailers offer at-home prescription detection technology, a visit to an optometrist or ophthalmologist is ideal. Although getting a prescription without an office visit is convenient, it isn’t an ideal option for adults who are at higher risk for medical eye problems. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends a complete eye exam every one to two years after age 65.4 A thorough eye exam, with dilation, can not only help diagnose such conditions as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts, but doctors can even diagnose other health problems such as diabetes through an eye exam.
- Select your frames. Many online retailers offer frame-selection quizzes and virtual try-on features. Choosing the right frame for you will come down to finding the appropriate size and your personal preferences regarding color and shape.
- Select the lenses. Your prescription will determine whether you need single-vision, reader, or multifocal (bifocal or progressive) lenses. You may also choose prescription sunglasses. Most online retailers offer specialty coatings for your lenses, such as blue-light-blocking, anti-glare, and anti-scratch. You may also choose to get photochromic lenses, which turn darker when exposed to UV light.
- Upload your prescription. Some retailers require you to take a picture of the prescription given to you by your doctor, while others prefer you enter the information yourself.
Be sure to check your glasses when they arrive for any defects or problems with the prescription. Refer to the retailer’s return policy if a return or exchange is needed.
What to consider when buying the best glasses online
There are several factors to take into consideration when shopping for glasses online:
- Cost: Prices can vary for online glasses from $6 to close to $1,000 for a pair, so cost is an important consideration. Keep in mind that every U.S. state and territory offers free or low-cost services to help people over 55 adjust to vision loss. If you need help with the cost of vision services, consult BenefitsCheckUp or visit the Time To Be Bold campaign for free or low-cost eye care.
- Prescription: Make sure you have a current prescription, and that you understand your prescription before purchasing glasses online. Your eye doctor should be able to explain how to read your prescription, but you can also refer to instructions provided by the AAO.5
- Lenses: Not all retailers carry all types of lenses. You may prefer a thinner, high-index lens if you have a particularly strong prescription. Some retailers carry workspace-progressive lenses for up-close vision needs. Some carry polycarbonate lenses, which are impact-resistant. If your prescription requires a multifocal (bifocal or progressive) lens, be sure the company offers them. Other lens customizations include anti-scratch, anti-reflective/glare, UV-blocking, photochromic, blue light-blocking coatings, and night-driving or sunglasses clip-ons.
- Frames: Retailers offer different selections of frames. Knowing your pupillary distance (PD) can help you choose the right size frame for your face. Some retailers, like Zenni Optical, offer specialty sizes for extra-narrow or extra-wide faces. If you participate in high-impact sports or activities, you may also want specialty sport or safety frames.
- Shipping: Shipping costs and times vary by retailer. Some offer free shipping, while others charge up to $20. Some retailers can get glasses to you in two days, while others may take weeks.
- Return policy: Most retailers accept returns, but the length of the return window varies, as does the refund policy. Some retailers give a full refund with no questions asked, while others only offer store credit or partial refunds.
- Warranty: Most online retailers offer at least some type of warranty on their glasses, but the length and amount of coverage can vary greatly. Be sure to read the warranty policy, to know what to expect if you lose or damage your glasses.
How we chose the best online glasses
Our Reviews Team conducted extensive research when exploring where to find the best glasses online. We mystery shopped numerous brands to research the user experience, compared virtual try-on features, reached out to customer service directly, and reviewed research on the recommendations for in-person versus virtual eye exams.
We rated the brands based on the following factors to help you find the best glasses online:
- Cost and payment options
- Ease of use
- Vision insurance acceptance
- Shipping and return policies
- Customer-friendly features like virtual try-on, online vision exams, and consultations with a professional
- Variety and style selection for both lenses and frames
Some degree of vision loss is common as we age. Getting a new pair of glasses can often improve quality of life. We reviewed the top brands for online prescription glasses to help you find the best options.
If you are looking for the largest selection, affordable prices, and a great virtual try-on feature, look to GlassesUSA. If you want affordable glasses as soon as possible, consider Eyebuydirect. For the most affordable glasses that have lenses included in the quoted frame price, as well as great customer service, go to Zenni Optical. If you prefer to try on your glasses at home before you buy, look to Warby Parker. For trendy online sunglasses at reasonable prices, go to DIFF Eyewear.
Frequently Asked Questions
Have questions about this review? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Joshua Erlich, MD. Vision and Eye Care in Older Adults. National Poll on Healthy Aging. September 2018. Found on the internet at https://www.healthyagingpoll.org/reports-more/report/vision-and-eye-care-older-adults
- Michiel R de Boer, et al. Different Aspects of Visual Impairment as Risk Factors for Falls and Fractures in Older Men and Women. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. December 2009. Found on the internet at https://asbmr.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1359/JBMR.040504
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vision Impairment and Older Adult Falls. August 10, 2021. Found on the internet at https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/resources/features/vision-loss-falls.html
- American Academy of Ophthalmology. Eye Health Information for Adults Over 65. Found on the internet at https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/seniors
- American Academy of Ophthalmology. How to Read an Eyeglasses Prescription. May 6, 2020. Found on the internet at https://www.aao.org/eye-health/glasses-contacts/how-to-read-eyeglasses-prescription
- Veterans Affairs. How to Measure Your PD. Found on the internet at https://www.va.gov/files/2021-11/How_to_measure_your_Pupillary_Distance.pdf